Detail of a pinball machine (Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Many A True Nerd

I’m not much of a Let’s Play fan, but I’ve found myself closely following the videos on a YouTube channel called Many A True Nerd over the past year or so. Jon, the guy who makes the majority of its videos by himself, got a fair bit of attention last year in the lead-up to Fallout 4 as he was finishing up a “You Only Live Once” run in Fallout 3 (the first episode of which is embedded above), where he played through the entire game in one life and without ever healing. He specializes in these kinds of challenge runs, adding stringent rules that make big, complex games that much more difficult to finish, and he gets through them thanks to careful planning and an incredible knowledge of their ins and outs. While there’s plenty of hiccups and fun to be had, thanks to the slightly unpredictable nature of the kinds of games he plays, Jon’s lighthearted, excitable commentary is completely devoid of the cookie-cutter sophomoric humor that usually turns me away from Let’s Play videos. Instead, I’m constantly in awe of his expertly crafted adventures and learning new things about games I thought I knew like the back of my hand as he approaches them in unthinkable ways. [Matt Gerardi]

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Kingdom

Recent studies suggest that we’re consuming more media per day on average, but that doesn’t mean much in this era of peak TV. Even if you’ve kept up with your Fargo, Better Call Saul, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, you’re still going to miss out on some great shows—at least, if you want to maintain a tolerable level of personal hygiene. One show I know people are missing out on—mostly because it’s in the programming hinterlands—is DirecTV/Audience Network’s Kingdom. I’ve covered my love for Kingdom in my TV Club coverage of the show, as well as in everyday conversations with people about TV’s hidden gems. But I’m prepared to effuse over it in this space as well. Kingdom follows a line of MMA fighters in Southern California that centers more on the unconventional nature of the family than on the inherent brutality of the family business. Themes include addiction and abandonment issues, but beneath the more sensational stuff, there’s just a great family drama. It’s one of the few shows that actually deals with a working-class family, but the members don’t receive the callous treatment of the Gallaghers on Shameless. Some of the Kulinas might have substance abuse problems, but the roots of those problems are explored rather than ignored or mocked. (I realize Shameless is in dramedy territory, but its portrayal of a purportedly blue-collar family is too cynical for either side of that line.) Despite some of the heavier content, which includes multiple episodes about surviving sexual assault, watching the show is no grueling task. There are fights, but they’re shot in a way that the violence doesn’t feel gratuitous. And this seemingly hypermasculine world is equally populated by women, who are fighters, managers, and lovers, and every bit as complex as any of the men. And this has probably already gone on too long, but I’d be remiss in not commending the cast, which includes Frank Grillo, Jonathan Tucker, Kiele Sanchez, and Joanna Going, for their excellent work over these last two seasons. TV Club coverage might have ended, but I really hope the show keeps going. [Danette Chavez]

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Pinball

I’ve developed a new and potentially unhealthy obsession lately: pinball. Over the last two months, I’ve probably pumped 30 bucks into machines around Portland, sneaking in a few games before my newswire shift, or late at night when I should probably be getting ready for bed. I don’t know what kicked off this newfound urge, but I know what keeps it going: the meditative state that settles over me when I slap the start button and settle into a game. For all its bells and whistles, pinball is a game of physics, boiled down to the elemental interaction between ball and flipper, and I find focusing on those things to be extremely soothing (There’s a reason The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” holds the game up as a quasi-religious act.) Once the quarter’s in the machine, the world zeroes out, allowing me to be happily alone while still existing in a public place. (Meanwhile, I’m desperately jealous of musician Mac DeMarco, who talked about the game with us back in 2014, and who’s got an awesome The Shadow machine, complete with a top-board that briefly turns the game from pinball into Breakout.) I’m lucky enough to live in a city with amazing barcades, like the venerable Ground Kontrol, but you can still find pinball machines pretty much everywhere. The next time the world gets too stressful, try seeking one out, drop in a quarter, and take yourself to church. [William Hughes]

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